Vietnam March 1968
selenium toned gelatin silver print on archival paper
Dimensions (H x W x D)
37 x 38 cm (print)
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection Image courtesy of the Sue Ford Archive
Photographer, filmmaker and photo-media artist Sue Ford (1943–2009) is considered one of Australia’s most important woman photographers of the second half of the 20th century. Studying and practising her art from the early 1960s, she cemented her reputation through her clear engagement with second-wave feminism in the early 1970s, with often simple, personal depictions of her subjects.
Establishing her practice at a time of energised consciousness raising in the West and urgent political activism, Ford used her camera to document the restless, crackling, dissenting mood of the times. At the heart of her work are the critical issues of gender, feminism, identity and Indigenous rights. Embodying the catchcry ‘the personal is political’, her photographs weave these critical threads into nuanced narratives of everyday life and social and political exchange in the public realm.
The Art and Heritage Collection holds a selection of Ford’s black-and-white photographs, spanning the 1960s to 80s, and ranging over her ethical and intellectual concerns. Three of the selenium-toned gelatin silver photographs, of which this is one, record Melburnians’ opposition to Australia’s support of America in the Vietnam War (1955–75). Documenting an anti-war rally of 1968, these three social documentary works were taken at the time the antipathy to conscription and military involvement was rapidly escalating, the street rallies soon turning into the three huge public moratoriums that sought to bring an to end the war, occurring in 1970–71. Australia’s military involvement in the conflict had begun in 1962, and the last of its troops were withdrawn in December 1972.